La semana pasada grabé un vídeo (en inglés, con subtítulos en español) para la sección Via@IEBusiness, de El País, y ha sido publicado hoy.
A continuación, las notas que utilicé como guión:
- Price: 19 billion dollars, almost 14 billion euro. $42/user
- WhatsApp is a 53 people company, that has created what it is essentially a bad product, inferior in features to most of the other instant messenger apps, with a terrible lack of focus in security, lack of stability, and an unclear and messy monetization strategy
- The company had a revenue of 20 million, with the relevant cost, besides the payroll, being the 30% commission that WhatsApp pays to Apple and Google to distribute the app.
- Some customers have paid a yearly fee of $0.99, others have paid nothing. Out of the total customer base of 450 million users, only about 20.2 million users have paid, a mere 4.5%. And in some markets, when the company tried to push for monetization, the users have revolted.
- WhatsApp has enjoyed a great growth: we were comparing it to SMS. Now, the instant messaging panorama is crowded, with better applications (Telegram, Line, WeChat, Viber… even Google Hangout, which hasn’t said anything yet) and loyalty is very scant. Telegram grew more than fifteen million users only during last week. This processes are completely viral and impossible to control.
- The network effect: of course important, but easier to bridge in a local, small scale. We communicate with not so many people.
- User data? About 80% of the WhatsApp users are not new to Facebook.
- Huge adoption among teens? Yes, but they grow older. And they change tools with extreme ease as they lose the “cool factor”
- Monetization: no ads (ever), nothing but the subscription fees. IM for business or professional markets? Forget it! It is not gonna happen
- WhatsApp announced voice calls. OK, good luck with that! Skype is there (330 million subscribers, $2 billion revenues), and many others. And voice is a feature with diminishing returns: teens are not into voice, they don’t use it
- Viber: bought by Rakuten, $900 million, 300 million users. That sounds like a reasonable valuation.
- Facebook valuation: $170 billion, 1250 million users, about $130/user. Try to bring as many WhatsApp users to Facebook and monetize them there? Good luck with that
- There are no precedents for operations of this scale. It might be difficult to understand. But I think it just makes no sense.
- “The problem with WhatsApp’s privacy boasts: they’re not true“, Pando Daily
- “Facebook buys Whatsapp for $19 billion: value and pricing perspectives“, Aswath Damodaram
- “I thought Facebook’s WhatsApp deal was crazy. Then I did some math“, The Wall Street Journal
- “How Facebook will squeeze $19 billion out of WhatsApp“, Wired